Research Of Animal Tumors May Benefit Humans

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center are collecting canine tumors for a national tissue bank that will shed new information on the prevention, detection and treatment of cancers in humans as well as animals.

Ohio State's College of Veterinary Medicine is one of three schools nationwide chosen to work with the National Cancer Institute's Comparative Oncology Program to establish the tissue bank. Tumors from dogs are collected for the Pfizer-Canine Comparative Oncology Genomics Consortium, says Dr. Laura Rush, co-leader of the tissue bank and a member of Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"We hope that our experiments on these tumor samples will eventually lead to better treatments, earlier detection strategies and better ways to prevent cancer in humans," says Rush. "With this tissue bank, we can do molecular biology studies, genetic studies and fascinating new state-of-the art tests to try and see what's going on in the tumors that will help both people and dogs."

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Also known as a biospecimen repository, the tissue bank is a collection of tissues and body fluids from dogs and cats with cancer. The collection provides researchers with tumor tissue and normal tissue for study. By using tumor samples from the tissue bank, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how cancer develops, determine what breeds of dogs and cats are at highest risk for specific cancers and develop new therapeutic approaches for particular cancers, Rush says.

Humans and dogs often develop the similar forms of cancer, including lymphoma, melanoma and osteosarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer. Each year, about 4 million dogs nationwide are diagnosed with cancer.

Since dogs and cats are often exposed to the same environmental risk factors as humans, studying their cancers can sometimes provide clues about what causes cancer in people, Rush says. Studying cancer in dogs and cats can also speed up the process of drug development, which will help to provide new therapies for pets and people, she says.

"We know cancer in humans and dogs is very much alike because when you look at a tumor sample under the microscope, they look very similar. The more we can learn about cancer in dogs, the more we can help humans, as well," Rush says.

The other schools involved with collecting samples for the national tissue bank are Colorado State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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